Diamonds turn Hot Springs into a town

via Diamonds turn Hot Springs into a town | The Zimbabwean by Pamenus Tuso 18.09.13

Hot Springs, once a quiet tourist resort in Chimanimani, looks poised for massive development following the government’s approval of the council’s proposal to turn the centre into a town.

The presence of the Chiadzwa Diamond fields and abundant water in the nearby Save River have set perfect conditions for the transformation of the rural hamlet into a bustling commercial and tourism outpost.

Already the diamond fields have lured car dealers, food outlets, shops and banks to Hot Springs – a sign of business interest targeting workers at Chiadzwa.

Nehemia Deure, the chief executive officer of the Chimanimani district council, said the government has already endorsed the plan, designed to see Hot Springs rise to the same size as Zvishavane in a few years’ time.

“We want to capitalize on the centre’s closeness to Chiadzwa by establishing a mining town,” he said. “This is a mammoth project which involves various stakeholders. Council alone does have the capacity to implement this project. We need the public /private sector partnership in this project. As soon as all paper work is finalized we will engage potential funders.”

Mines normally attract big business, especially manufacturers of heavy duty equipment and commercial players, to provide essential services to miners and their families. In the case of Chiadzwa, most senior managers commute to Mutare for decent accommodation while their staff source basic household essentials and banking services from the same city.

Hot Springs is different from other post-independence growth points like Murambinda and Birchenough Bridge because of the intense production of diamonds at Chiadzwa. The other growth points rely mainly on subsistence agriculture whose incomes are fragile and erratic.

Deure said council has already started developing commercial and residential stands at the resort centre in anticipation of a rise in demand for accommodation.

Working with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the council expects rich pickings for the transformation of Chimanimani as Hot Springs promises to boost its revenues significantly.

The tourism potential of the centre has largely remained untapped because of run-down infrastructure and lack of first-class accommodation and services — evident from unpainted match-box buildings housing small traders, huts with collapsing thatched roofs and an old traditional beer outlet.

The upgrading of the centre to town status could hasten the revival of the resort, once a marvel to passing tourists as hot water juts in a mini-volcanic fashion from the belly of the earth.